New York Times "This Land" columnist Dan Barry landed on Friday's front page with his literary, slightly affected profile of a "tent city" for the homeless in Providence, Rhode Island -- and may now wish he hadn't.
Because there was something left out of Barry's portrayal of John Freitas, the "chief" of the homeless encampment and a major part of Barry's column.
The chief emerges from his tent to face the leaden morning light. It had been a rare, rough night in his homeless Brigadoon: a boozy brawl, the wielding of a knife taped to a stick. But the community handled it, he says with pride, his day's first cigar already aglow.
By community he means 80 or so people living in tents on a spit of state land beside the dusky Providence River: Camp Runamuck, no certain address, downtown Providence.
Because the two men in the fight had violated the community's written compact, they were escorted off the camp, away from the protection of an abandoned overpass. One was told we'll discuss this in the morning; the other was voted off the island, his knife tossed into the river, his tent taken down.
The chief flicks his spent cigar into that same river. There is talk of rain tonight.